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>> rose: welcome to the program tonight jonathan karl chief hite house correspondent for abc news on gun control, the president's budget and immigration reform. >> well, another big moment in washington, right? i mean first you have a democratic president defiing the aarp. we thought that would kind of never happen, credited for being maybe the most powerful lobbying force in washington. if there is another most powerful washington lobbying force it's the nra. >> rose: right. >> and the fact the nra came out, they were against having a-- you know, this bill go forward. it goes forward in the senate. and then you have, you know, pat actually and joeansn, two of the most conservative senators in their respective
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parties and both lifetime a-rated nra members come forward with a proposal that would at least do something in the way of gun control, you know, expanding background checks. it's only partial, you know, part of the president's plan but it is something. you know, it's significant movement. we're still a long way from anything actually passing. but it's significant movement. >> rose: we continue with leah dickerman. she is the curator at the moma exhi busins inenin abstraction 1910 to 1925. it closes soon so go quickly. >> so i think one of the lessons here is that creativity and sociability are deeply, deeply linked. and for scholars of modernism, we have long recognized that the advent of abstraction in the visual arts, the beginnings of atonal music, the beginnings of modern dance, nonnarrative modern dance as we know t and experimental sound poetry. these things are happening in the same moment in time.
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but it's not a coincidence, i think. it's about these conversations. >> rose: and speak of going quickly, amy herzog, the brilliant young playwright has a new play t is called belleville. it closes on sunday. >> i think every time i find an idea for a play it's sort of a miracle because you have to care about it so much. you have to have something capture your imagination so much. it doesn't happen to me every day. i saw that documentary about woody allen where every day he is am coming up with titles and plots for move yees, i was envious, my mind is much slower. >> funding for charlie rose was provided by the following:
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: it is a busy week for the united states congress. today theenate voted allowtheonsiraonf the first piece of major gun control legislation in two decades. the chamber will now debate a bill that would expand background checks for gun buyers. also today house democrats unveiled their plan for immigration overhaul. the proposal comes just days before a bipartisan groups of eight senators is expected to present their
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agreement on immigration reform. the developments occurred in the wake of a continuing fiscal debate on the hill. president obama released his own budget proposal on wednesday to consider all of this joining me from washington jonathan karl, he is chief white house correspondent for abc ws. i'm pleased to have him back on this program. welcome back, jonathan, great to talk to you. >> thank you very much, charlie. great to be with you. >> rose: where should we start? let's start with the president's budget. obviously some democrats believe he went too far. republicans saying he didn't go far enough. what did he accomplish? and where are we? >> well, he got a lot of credit from those that have been beating the drums, talking about the need to take on entitlements an deal with the long-term deficit situation. but politically he didn't get much. i mean the republicans didn't give him really any credit at all. and then you have on h liberal flank people like barry sanders saying this is out yaj us-- outrage us that the president is, in the words of some progressives, stealing money from seniors,
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stealing deserved benefits. so it's hard to find somebody up on capitol hill that was truly ready to give the president credit. and to praise his budget. but you know, you've got to say, this is quite a moment, charlie n washington. you had a democratic president go out and defy the aarp, also adamany opped t steps tookon social security and medicare in this budget. and come out and propose some entitlement reforms. modest reforms, perhaps, but i think a significant step. >> rose: the president i assume expects that having people on his left criticize him will help him make the argument that he's prepared to karen titlements as something that needs attention. >> yeah, and we hope get some credit from republicans, something am but it's interesting. republicans see this as budgets traditionally are as kind of a starting point for negotiations. they're saying well, if you are willing to do this, maybe we c ao do this. so u saw jay carney at the white house try to dance
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around this and say no, no, this is not a starting point. this is a sticking point. this is the final offer. it's the first offer and it's the final offer. >> so where does it go from here? >> well, you know, we have a major showdown ahead it has not gotten much attention. and that is, you know, we have the debt ceiling once again. the prospect that the united states could default on its, to its creditors. the debt ceiling needs to be raised this summer. and nobody really can tell me how that isoing to happen. here at the white house the expectation is that republicans will simply cave on this. like they caved earlier in the year giving a temporary increase. republicans say there is no way that can happen. even if john boehner wanted to cave on this, he couldn't pass an extension of the debt ceiling on its own in the house without something else. so really, charlie, when we get to this, the question is, you know, does that become the final opportunity to have something that looks a little bit like the grand bargain. or at least as carney at one point called it, the pe at
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this time bargain. but some kind of an agreement that does do something on entitlements an something on taxes. >> rose: does the president get some credit and also some achievements from all the meetings he is having with republicans and with senators? >> i think he does. and maybe the biggest indication of that is they aren't really talking much about it. you know, he had a dozen senators over for dinner, this is the second round of dinners with republican senators. interestingly, you know, some on the left are saying when are you going to get around to inviting some democrats over for different. but you know, he had gotten so much heat for the fact that he hadn'teaced o to rublins at all, the fact that he is doing some of this, i think, does give him some credit. whether or not it actually translates into anything that actually can pass on capitol hill on these big tough issues is another question. but definitely get some credit. >> on the budget side, is my understanding of the accounting that he's asking for every $2, every $1
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increase in revenue he is asking for $2 in spending cuts? >> yeah t depends on how you define all this. the president is taking credit for 1 trlion dollars in spending cuts in this budget. but what you have to remember is that you know, 1.2 trillion is already been done. that was the sequester. so he replaces that with cuts elsewhere. so by another accounting, you could say it's much more like one-to-one of spending cuts to tax increases. >> rose: so what dow make of the deal that was made to allow the gun control debate to come to the floor of the is that? >> well, another big moment in washington, right. i mean first you have a democratic president defying the aarp. wehought that that would kind of never happen, credited for being maybe the most powerful lobbying force in washington. if there is another most powerful washington lobbying force force it's the nra. the fact they came out. they were against having a, the bill go forward it goes forward in the senate.
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and then su have, pat toomey and joe mansion, these are two of the most conservative senators in their respective parties, and both lifetime a-rated nra members come forward with a proposal that would at least do something in the way of gun ontrol. you ow, expanding background checks. it's only partial, you know, part of the president's plan. but it is something. you know, it's significant movement. we're still a long way from anything actually passing but it's significant movement. >> rose: does the fact that they're prepared to do this offer some hope in getting people of their own sort of persuasion to come forward and vote on these issues the way that the president would like for them to vote? >> i think that the answer is yes. the question is whether or not we'll be enough. it's interesting, charlie, this hasn't goten much atntion. but if you look at the toomey-mansion compromise, it has in there some provisions that you could argue actually weaken gun laws.
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that are provisions that the nra actually likes. for instance, it has got a provision that makes it easier for gun owners to president their guns across statelines. it also, you know, under current law with background checks that are done at federally licensed gun dealers, you have a three day period for that background check. and if the background check is not completed, the sale automatically goes through. under this toomey-mansio ll tt go down to a two day period, only two day conditions used to get a background check. and eventually it reduces it to just 24 hours. those are provisions that some gun control advocates will not like. and that the nra if nothing else was in this, would be fully in favor. so its he-- it is truly a compromise bill. and it's a compromise bill that has tried to-- that is aimed at getting some people that are inclined toward the nras position to vote for it. the biggest complicating factor is the nra late last night said that they will include in their sessments of the gdes for senators,
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and members of the house, how they vote on this bill. they oppose the bill and if people vote for it they will count it against them in those all important nra grades. >> rose: and especially in danger of some democrats in swing states and who have an election coming up. >> and by the way, did you notice that the two democrats actually voted against ending the filibuster today. which was interesting. you had bagach of alaska and of arkansas they both stood with those that were willing to filibuster any consideration of gun control. >> rose: some saying we need a real debate on gun control. and yet they are voting in favor or saying they would vote in favor of a filibuster. when you look at what happened on the hill, you know, clearly everybody is talking about, you know, the aftermath of newtown. and you had parents of children who lost their life talking to senators, some of them, and many of them. did it have an impact? is it part of the
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conversation now? >> i think there no qution that it had an impact. it had an impact in what happened. we saw the senate vote again for the first time in two decades in defines of the nra. now it was just a procedural vote it was just a vote that ended a filibuster and allowed consideration of these gun provisions. but a number of republicans said that they believe that these families have a right to have a vote. now ultimately when it comes down to voting on the bill, those republicans are going to line up and vote against it. so it may not be enough to ultimately get something pasd. but thiswas one of tho cases where you saw people come to town, lobbying with great, you know, moral authority. i mean it's hard to look them in the eye. they have just been through this tragedy. and i believe had an impact. >> rose: all right, let me turn to immigration reform. where does that stand? >> well, we are going to see an agreement with the so-called gang of eight which features quite
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prominently marco rubio on the republican side. i am told they have their agreement. it's just a matter of when they rolled out. they roll out in the next few days. and this i a true bipartisan proposal. you know, you'll see chuck schumer leading the charge along with dick durbin on the democratic side. you're going to see a rubio and lindsay graham, john mccain, some real republicans, conservatives leading the way on the other side. so this issue will dominate the congress over the next couple of weeks, next couple of months. and i think has a very good chance of moving forward and actually getting passed. but there will be and is significant opposition on the right, still rubio wth allis tea party credentials is going to have to go in and make the case to republicans who have opposed moving forward on anything that would give a path to citizenship, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. and he's going to have to go
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and convince these republicans to support it. >> so you come to the white house to be the white house correspondent for abc, doing a really amazingly good job covering the congress. tell me how you see the obama administration with these problems facing it, and having won the election that it did. and having sworn to the mantra th eltions have consequences. >> well, it's interestingment because covering the hill, what i heard from certainly republicans but also from rep-- democrats, was that this white house doesn't really know how to handle congress. this white house is kind of clumsy with its relationships. the president didn't seem interested in building the personal relationships. again, even with democrats. and coming here it's interesting to kind of see it from the other perspective. i think you have seen a change that if i can say one factor that has been a key isoth, is dennis mcdonough, the new chief of staff, who worked up on capitol hill. he was with tom daschle, up on the hill he was a
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partisan democrat, absolutely. and still is. but he was somebody that had respect from republicans and who liked to try to work with republicans, saw value in that. and i think he has been the force that has been encouraging the president to have these dinners with republican senators and to try to reach out a little bit more. because you know, the bottom line is he won the election. and he want-- won it decisively but he'to te going to get anything done if he is unable to work with the republicans in the second term. >> some of the people at the white house that i talked to have said that the president is surprised when he meets with the republicans that he doesn't think they understand where he is and what positions he believes in. >> yeah. >> rose: i don't know whether you get some likely -- >> yeah, i mean, but that's-- and that makes sense, right f are you not talk approximating about somebody, they probably don't understand where you are coming from. and certainly what you hear from republicans a lot is that they think that the president has a very cartoonish view of what motivates them.
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>> rose: i know. >> and what they really stand for. so you know, like i said who knows if this will actually end up producing results. but you know you're not going to get results the other way. >> rose: jonathan, thank you so much. it's a pleasure to have you on this broadcast. i hope we can do it again soon. >> definitely, thank you, charlie. >> rose: back in a moment, stay with us. 100 years ago the rules of after-making were fundamentally changed. artists exploring genres from painting to portraye portraye- portrait eveloped a radically new language expression. it was known as abstraction. the museum of modern art 1936 landmark exhi business cubism and abstract art showcased this important movement. now more than 70 years later an new exhibition returns to this moments it is called inventing abstraction, 1910-1925. leah dickerman, a cure raiser at the museum of modern art, odd the exhibition. she joins me now and i'm pleased to have her here. >> welcome. >> rose: . >> thanks for having me. >> rose: we've got some
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learning to do here. i mean here is the big book, inventing ago strax 1910-1925. how radical idea changed modern art. this is what glen lowrie says. he runs the moma. abstraction may be modernism's greate innovation, it is now so central to our concept, conception of artistic practice that the time before the idea of an abstract artwork made sense, had become hard. so you hardly can remember when there was no abstraction. he continues, quite suddenly around 100 years ago they took many observers by surprise, beginning in late 1911 or across the course of the next year a series of afterists exhibited works that marked the beginning of something radically new. they dispensed with recognizable subject matter. 9 implication of these opening moves were registered with astounding rapiddy. within five years abstraction practitioners including hans,-- arthur dove, not allia-- and
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marsden-- a whole range of other people came forward. i'm left with this question, just for everybody, you know, define abstraction for me. >> well, abstraction has lots of mns. but whais bei explored in this show is 9 beginning of a new type of modern artwork. a picture that's no longer a picture of something. and the first abstract pictures were shown in exhi business across the united states and across europe in the years immediately following 1910. bang bang bang, a whole series of artists showed abstract pictures in exhi business. >> did they recognize what it was at the time? >> yes, they did. in fact one of the things that i think is so fascinating about looking at this moment is how difficult it is to think a new idea. >> ros like glejust said. how you cn fe artists struggling with it, breaking away with 400 years of pictorial tradition. how can you make a new type of artwork, how do you organize it, how do you imagine it. and i think that that gets played out in this show. there is examples of artists like pablo picasso who at
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the end of 1910 come up to, up to the brink of abstraction, create a picture that is almost abstract, by all appearances and then back away. >> this is woman with a mandolin. >> that is where you open this exhi business. >> he went almost to it and then backed away. >> heouldn't embrace i conceptually. and he ends up becoming a very outspoken opponent of abstraction. so his picture in some ways is an -- >> this is a man grounded in cubism. >> grounded in cubism and cubism broke all the rules of pictorial expression as they had been known, the idea of a foreground and a background, a solid and a void, a sky and ground plane. so he's shattering the rules of the western pictorial tradition and yet he can't go there. he can't let go of the idea of making a picture of something. and yet for so many of the artists in the show, picasso's work spelled the add venlt of abstraction. >> rose: let's look at picasso this is woman with a
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mandolin which he did in 1910. >> so you can argue that picasso is the most radically innovated, nimble minded artist of the avant-garde in the first decade of the 20th century. and as that decade comes to a close, he makes this picture while he's summering in spain. and as you can see, it's almost, almost an abstract picture. there's only hints of its subject matter. and when he gets to this point, he seems to have surprised himself. because he rejects the idea of making a picture that's no longer a picture of something conceptually. he says that for him, painting is tied integrallically tied to the depiction of things. and yet, it's so key for what happens next. and so many of the artists in the exhi business looked at picasso's work. and for them the lesson they saw was that of abstraction. >> rose: and yet he said there is no abstract art. you always have to start with something. >> that's rigt. and inspeaking abt it,
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lot of people have brought up the example of einstein whose theories of relativity lead to quantum mechanics, to quantum physicsment but he too wasn't able to take that next step to abandon the premises of what he was known to take this next radical step. and i think that's characteristic of invasion. it happens in fits and starts. and people can make a certain step but not necessarily do it all in one leap. >> rose: here is an important point, next is cad inski from 1911. there it is he painted this, and this is the connection between artist of different kinds of art. he painted this in response to a concert of schaumberg's music known to be radically diso dant and without melody or tune. >> that's what he did. and what's interesting to me about ca-- kandinski, is he something of the opposite of picasso. secreting a man script that would be called on the spiritual and art. but he didn't know what an abstract picture would like like. he doesn't know how to make
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one. and this concert that he goes to of schaumberg's music in january o 1911 seems to have helped him see the path. and he paints this work, which was as radically abstract as he had done yet. >> rose: and he said content is nothing but the sum of organized tensions. >> that's right. after this concert he goes there, the munich audience is dumbfounded. the artists are dazzled and kandinski hears something in schaumberg's music that enables him to sgin too con september allize an abstract picture and he make -- concert which is as abstract a picture a he had de until that point. and within a few weeks of that he begins work on composition 5, which is a manifesto for abstraction. it's a huge monumental painting. he shows it in the firs first-- exhibition in december of that year and publishes his manuscript at the same time. and that is a watershed. after that moment, artist
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after artist across the course of 1912 shows abstract pictures in exhibition. >> rose: tell me one more time why that was the one that was sort of explosive in terms of the coming of abstraction? >> wel, i don't think there's one first abstract picture but with composition 5 it was a combination of an exhibition, a brand-new group of artists showing this picture and a manifesto for abstraction. kandin scow put image and text out in the public sphere in the same moment in time. and it rippled through the world of art, artist after artist responded to his text. they responded to his work. and they began to show an strablingt pictures in public exhibition across the course of 1912. >> rose: so we go from composition 5 to what? >> to sonia delaney. she is a figure that ends up on our chart, our diagram of the connections between artists. one of the most connected figures in the field. and that took me by surprise. and it took lots of our readers and visitors by
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surprise as well. her name wasn't expected. but i think once you think about it starts to make sense because sonia delaney is a russian artist married to a french painter. and their living room becomes a salon where east meets west, where ideas travel between continental europe and eastern europe. and there is examples of it. e has a cousin with whom she was very close. and he comes and visits them in the sum ever of 13 which is a key year for us. a year when everything is happening. and he spends the summer with them. and then when he goes back to russia he takes with him images by her. illustrated manuscripts, a copy of her trans-siberian proceeds people and gives lectures at the stray dog cafe in russia which was a preleff use-- revolutionary bohemia salon where all the key russian cultural figures were hanging out so this kind of traner is happening all the time. and with the proceeds poem it's a collaboration between
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an artist and a poet. they were introduced to each other by guillome pollumire. he is the one who tro intrused picasso to broke. and-- they create what they call the first simultaneous book. and what they mean by that is a book that would be text and image at the same time. not image illustrating text or not-- not image sub or the-- sub order ant to text. but text and image at the same time. and they created a publication that was one of the first uses of abstract imagery in this sphere of literature. >> rose: now at that time was collaboration across media types par for the course? >> i think that people, you know, for many centuries of talking to each other across media. but i think particularly when the rules of art making as they have been known seem
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irreleva or obsolete or seem to have-- where the world is totally new and new rules for thinking about pictures have to be made, these conversations seem particularly intense and fertile. >> rose: they called it the first simultaneous book. >> they called it the first simultaneous book. and they meant image plus text at the same time. and they also meant that you could see it all at once rather than at one page at a time, you would see it upright and vertical in almost poster form. >> rose: okay now let's take a look. this is francis-- dances a la source, correct. >> that's right. he showed that in the fall of 1912 in paris where it had an extraordinary reception. critics loved to hate it, as french critics are want to do. one of them called it encrusted linoleum. and it was filmed by gomont and the news reals were shown in the united states and in south america so it was a public debut for abstraction. >> and what forms is he
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exhibiting here? is he illustrating here. >> well, you can see that he really has picasso on his min that rose-coloured palate looks like picasso and those fractured forms look like picasso but he does it in a way that is very different from picasso. it's huge, billboard in scale. the paint handling is very different, crude, rather than picasso's refinement. and he's announcing that this is an abstract picture which is something that picasso would never do. and in fact for me, there's a story picabia that is key for my thinking about this project or why i think the thinking about abstraction is so interesting. he tells you that he invents abstraction. and even though i'm arguing that this is a kind of group exercise, he claims it for himself. and he tells the story that he takes one of his fleet of cars in 1912 and of course that's very early to have a car. and he takes one of his cars and invites some friends of
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his to drive across france to pick up his fiancee gabrielle bouffet in england. they start in the car, they rumble along, they stop in a tavern. they have tap much to drink and they invent abstraction. so who were his companions. his companions are the poem, and the composer clawed debussey. and for me the take away of this is you take artist, a poet, a composer, you put them in a car and you give them too much to drink and you've got abstraction. but i think that there is something else to be gleaned. which is that when artists are trying to figure out the rules of a new form of art making, when the rules that they had been known are unsettled, how do you figure out what to do? and he is telling you, you figure out in conversation. you are taking to other people. you're borrowing from other fields. and that's how you get new ideas. >> rose: i forgot to go back
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to this central point. how did this idea come to you? >> well, partly in stories like that. because if you read art history, people tell you that abstraction is about medium specificity. it's about creating works of hart that exsuppress-- express the techniques and the rules of that particular gee, that particular medium, to in a self-reflexive way. and you also hear words a lot like purity and autonomy. but when i heard stories the way artists tell you stories about abstraction, what they're saying is something very different. they are saying that, in fact, to figure out this new, these rules of a new art form, they're talking to people who are working across, in other media. they're talking. and it's something that comes out of conversation. and so i think one of the lessons here is that crativit and sociability are deeply, deeply linked. and for scholars of modernism, we have long
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recognized that the advent of abstraction in the visual arts, the beginnings of atoneal music, the beginnings of modern dance, nonnarrative modern dance as we know it and experimental sound poetry, these things are happening in the same moment in time. but it's not a coincidence, i think. it's about these conversations that artists are having. >> and that is the central idea to this entire of stracnventg abstraction. >> okay. at forementioned-- take a look at this next slide. >> this is a small book in the show. it's hardly the most prepossessing object in the exhi business but to me it is one of the most poignant because this is guillome first published book of-- sense. >> is this written in the trenches. >> while writing in world war i from the trenches. he enlisted the help of two of his fellow sergeants. they used therim
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tim-- primitive mimeograph machine and ran it off in 25 copies. so to me that is extraordinary, the fact that any of these books are there to be shown now is just an incredible miracle. >> rose: okay. next let's go to morgan russell. what's this? >> this is an 11 foot painting by morgan russell made in 1914. that scale tells you that he's wearing his ambition for abstraction on his sleeve. he is an american working in paris. and he and his coatriot form a group that they call sin-- synchronism,. >> when abstraction is just being invented, there's not a word that seems to fit. and so there is this spate of-- that are created, rayism, futurism, orphism. all these words to help capture how new the project is. the word they choose sy m.c.
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hromy. so if symphony is surround, it iswith color. >>baseon t pati of the dying slay. >> so he is obvious-- obsessively des pits his ambitions for abstraction, he is obsessively drawing sketches of michelangelo's dying slave. and you can see that hint, that trace of the certificate pen phone figure that suggests enthough secreting an abstract picture, he still can't avoid the legacy of the figure rattive tradition. >> rose: morgan russell was an american working in paris. >> that's correct. >> rose: the next slide is marsden hartley, berlin abstraction 1914-19156789 he was an american working in berlin when he painted this. >> that's right. he reads kandinski's text and goes to germany to meet him. the encounter is so informative that he stays for two years an begins making abstract pictures. he meets a man and falls in
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love and his letter is a german calf allry officer an dies early in world war i. and he begins-- . >> rose: de or his lover did. >> his lover is the calf allry officer. and he begins incorporating pictographic forms that suggest military insignia into his pictures. so this is an homage to his beloved, an an track portrait that is not a picture of the man he loved but an homage to him. >> rose: and next one is kazamer millavery much, painterly realism of a boy with-- 1915. >> one of the pictures that he showed in his exhibition, 0-10 in petersburg in 1915. and the title 0-10, the 0 of that tight sell a faula rassa-- rossa idea, in order to create a new language you have to take everything back to the beginning. and invent it all over again. and that exhibition was an incredible announcement of a new language of abstraction
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that was gee meth rick form against an in-- infinite expanse of white. >> rose: tell me about his use of white. >> white for him represented a kind of spiritual ideal and also something immaterial. and yet he was at the same time fastidiously material and he painted with a careful stroke of his brush stroke. and in the room in whh he hung these paintgs, he hung paintings of these-- paintings like this from floor to ceiling. it was an extraordinary mass of works. and then he penned paper numbers underneath them and put titles nearby. and they would have titles like boy with knapsack and airplane flying very, very tangible titles. and he published, he put slogans on the wall and he published not one but two bro shares. and it's quite extraordinary because it reminded you that when abstract paintings were put out into the world, hey weren't put out by themselves but they went with text. >> rose: our next image is
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from at that timelynn this is tower 1920. this is where the new soviet government which came into power in 1917 funded design competitions. >> they funded design competitions. they set up cultural agencies, in the wake of the russian revolution for a very brief moment in time. the avant-garde actually had power. i don't know of another historical analogy. and tatlan was the head of the department of monumental prop gandar. whh is a great title. and the job of the department of monumental propaganda was to tear down all czarist mondayments and create new ones. and tatlan was unhappy with his proposals, most of the ones that he received. and this model that we have in the show, it's a reconstruction of a model he built in 1920 is his counterproposal. but instead of a figurive mondayment the revolution should have a mondayment that was a steel tower that would be 1300 feet tall and would house the common turn, inl
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association of communist parties. >> rose: lastly but not leastly wall of mandri a, n in which he painted figurive landscapes as a young painter. help me understand. a, where do you put this in the entire exhibition. >> one thing that is interesting about the sequence of paintings that we have by him in the show is you see one figure thinking out so many of the issues that arise in the course of the show. so we have a sequence of paintings that moves from 1912 all the way to 1920-- . > ro: this is one inti dealng wi t arrival of abstraction. >> one painter dealing with the arrival of abstraction, working through so many of the issues himself and coming out to his own-- of what abstraction should be. he called the type of painting that he ultimately started painting neoplasticism which are things that we think of him using primary colours, red, yellow and blue, noncollars.
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>> and what about the fact that some of those paintings are hung diagonally. >> lozenges, it is intesting. he feltike you could change the frame of the painting but you could never move from the horizontal and vertical. in fact he vehemently rejected the diagonal and believed that the ordering of the world as he understood it was based on a structure of horizontal and vertical lines. and for him you see that there is a grid painting in the middle. this thinking about the grid was a way that he could help get rid of the trace imagery of particularive painting, figurive painting would, you know, had foreground and background and center and periphery and the grid blue all ofhat away. >> is he called somehow the poster boy of modernism? >> well, i have a soft bode for mondrian and i think it's because he tried to get rid of the language of figureation as we know it. and he also articulates some
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ideas that we might think of as utopian today. he believed that if you got, if you made a picture that was without hierarchy f you made a picture that was without foreground and baground works center and periphery, that that picture could be a model for a better world. >> rose: one more thing. you sum up in your own words what the coming of abstraction meant. and means. >> i think that this moment in time about 1 -- years ago was our renaissance. the totality of the changes that were taking place in the cultural schfear means it was the most important rewriting of the rules as we've seen since the renaissance. and everything that we have seen in the last 100 years builds upon that foundation. >> rose: an here's what is amazing to me, take two, show the diagram of inventing abstraction diagram because it shows what we have said in this conversation, you know, that these were artists who were connected. not just painters but
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musicians and composers. and people from a wide range of disciplines. >> that's correct. and i think it tells us something about the nature of creativity. that it happens in a social atmosphere. that creativity and sociability are deeply linked. >> rose: like over meals. >> over meals and then barrooms and in trusts and fights a exhibition halls and all of the things that are part of life. but that ideas happen in conversation. and to give a visual manifestation of this we tried to create a chart. and we did it with some help from the columbia business school. they lent us software. but we put all of the names of the artists that we had in the show in this chart. whenever we could document that fact that they knew each other through correspondent or documentation of their acquaintance we drew a line between the names. what you get is this dense knot of connections. we knew it would be thickly connected but it's even thicker than we thought.
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>> rose: and you can see it by the diagram. >> you can see it. there's no six degrees of connection at all. but what it shows you, i think, is tha players that we don't think of as being in contact with each other, in fact, in fact were. and when we look at it geographically that artists from the russian avant-garde, for instance were in contact with what was happening in continental europe. >> rose: thank you, leah. >> thank you, charlie. >> ros le dicrmanrom moma, the exhibition inventing abstraction 1910 to 1925, how radical idea changed modern art. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: amy herzog is here. of "the new york times" called her one of the brightest new talents in the there. "time" magazine asked will hollywood lure her away before the treater world can fully luxure yate in her talent. 249-year-old playwright has had four major off broadway successes in the past two years. her most recent is called
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belleville playing at the new yorkheatre workshop until april 14th. and here is the trailer. >> the past five years all she talked about was -- >> i love it. >> dow want to get out of here? >> you have a job here. >> but i do not want to leave. >> i need your money. >> you're four months late. >> i'm work on getting all the money i owe. >> what's going on. >> this is the other consequence of you to the being on your meds, paranoia. >> don't make fee feel like i'm crazy, zack. >> i loved you. and i would never let anything happen to you.
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>> rose: tell me about belleville from the moment you said i'm going to write this. >> it was a very long gestation process for this play, gestation period. i started thinking about the idea in 2006 or 2007. >> rose: and what were you thinking about? >> i was thinking about a marriage with an enormous lie at the core that et gos revealed over the course of the play. >> rose: that he doesn't have i job s that the lie. >> yes, that's the lie. that's one of the lies but the biggest one. and i wrote first draft. i threw it out, another first draft and through it out and i wrote a draft in 2011 that came the draft that stuck. >> rose: so go through the process. so far you have decided this is the next-- ex-pat couple in pairs. they're looking for what? >> well, ostensibly zack has a job there he's working for doctor was borders and his
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wife abbey who has been at see since her mother died is am coulding along with this sort of fantasy vision of what par sis going to be and how it's going to kind of solve, solve her malaise. >> rose: then they get an pardon me. >> they get an apartment. he's leaving every day to go to work. e's teaching an odd yoga course here and there for college student as broad from america. >> rose: and then she finds out there is a lie. >> she starts at the beginning of the play she comes home. this is the opening scene of the play. she comes home from teaching yoga and zack is there unexpectedly and actually she catches him in kind of a compromising position. and that's when questions begin to be raised in her mind. >> rose: and there are two other characters, the couple who own the apartment. >> right, the landlords, a senegal ease french couple and they live downstairs. >> rose: so when you create these plays are theyut of yourind, out of your imagination or do you sort of do some kind of research? >> this play there was some research there were a very ver famous stories of couples like this.
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one, there is a frenchman who is maybe the most famous example so i did a lot of reading. but not all my plays are research plays. and i believe firmly in doing some research and then discarding it and feeling liberated from it and really starting fresh. >> rose: you wanted to be an actor. >> yes. >> rose: maybe you are an actor. >> maybe i still entertain fantasies of being an actor, yeah. >> rose: but did you turn to play writing because you didn't feel like acting was going to be for you, a satisfying life? >> yes. whether or not that was true, i-- . >> rose: that is the way i couched the question that way. >> exactly. i tried. i auditions my first year out of college. i got a job touring on a children's theatre play. and at the end of the year i just felt like i had so little creative freedom. and it felt so far away that i would be able to have the life that i really wanted. i began writing then. >> rose: did you go back to the drama school. >> a few years later, i had four years off between undergrad and graduate school. >> rose: yeah. andeciding tt i want to write plays, is that what you came out of that saying, i'm going to be, i am a
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playwright. >> i didn't feel very certain ff for a long time. i felt like it was something that was working betzer than acting. i was holding lots of day jobs in the meantime. and then yeah by the time i applied for graduate school i did feel like maybe this can actually be a career. >> rose: why does one decide they want to write plays rather than novels. >> one has to be silly, i think, because the theatre is a small kind of cottage industry. but i grew up on the theatre. my grandmother was involved in the theatre. i went to the theatre growing up. so it felt native for me. i didn't survey the option and make a practical choice, i just felt like writing plays was what i could do. >> rose: dow need a confirmation that that is true or dow make that judgement yourself. >> i made that judgement myself and had to wait a long time for the confirmation that it was true. so i had a lot of years of, you know, struggle and disappointment. >> rose: the introduction that i read suggests that you will be tempted to do other things. >> you mean like film and television. >> rose: yeah, like film and television. >> it is tempting, there is a lot of excellent work in fill and television. >> rose: so that is a forum
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will you b gravitating towards. >> i'mhinking abt it i have done a little screen writing. i haven't written for television yet. >> rose: how do you write? dow write at home? >> or do you go to an office. >> i pay for an office space for a membership in a writers room and when i'm being really good i go there. more often than not i do write from home. >> rose: and do you write with great, you know, urgency and great passion. >> a lack rit. >> rose: yeah. >> well, no, sometimes i really write when i have something i really want to wrote. last week i wrote a proceeds piece for the long time but i will go through long droughts and i tr toonor those thinking there is a reason i'm not writing now and when i'm ready to write again i'll know. >> rose: back to this play, belleville why paris, why not mad rid, london, istanbul? why not moskow. >> right, partly because i spent enough time there that i felt like i could write about it with some kind of awe then 'tisities. but the leftier answer is that i wanted to write about a place that these people could really have a fantasy about, that there could be
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this kind of ideaistic vision of. and par sis no longer the place that we think of it. i think a lot of people think of the paris of fitzgerald. >> rose: the rontic part. >> exactly. >> rose: hanging out in cafe and doing all the things we still do but it's different. >> in a way that feels sort of like we are in a movie or museum or something. >> rose: what changed. is the paris at the centre piece of culture changed and so therefore it doesn't attract the same people -- >> i think that buingd artists, emerging artsists don't go there because it is really expensive. i think there are other cities in the world that young people. >> rose: like new york. >> new york, which is very inexpensive, right. >> rose: yeah, no but you can find places to live that are close that -- >> you can, but i thin-- >> se: bui do think that new york is the center for young people to come to try their hand at all the creative arts. >> i think that's absolutely true. in terms it of ex-pat city for americans i think there are others that have sort of supplanted paris. >> rose: and it has also been told that it is said
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about you that you write thrillers as plays. >> well, i think-- . >> rose: is the murder here. >> well, no actually. this one is the thriller. though i've actually as i said in that introdurx i've struggled against that definition a little bit. i think is equally sort of a portrait of a disintegrating marriage, a drama. >> rose: that is what interested you most about the play, the relationship of the couple. >> yes, and i always loved thrillers but i always loved deeply psychological thrillers so it is trying to be that. >> rose: what si a deeply psychological thriller. >> a thrill their really hold up under scrutiny where it's not about a lot of plot turns. >> roseu47ou don't have have action to be interested in who they are and what they are doing. >> exactly. it doesn't hang completely on plot and camera angles and knives and all that stuff. >> rose: is story easier or character easier. >> character sezier for me because i've spent a lot of time working on it. story can be hard. and i usually try to put character first rather than letting the plot drive. >> rose: how does one create a character. >> it depends. i have created characters
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based on real people in my earlier plays after the revolution in 4,000 miles i had real life molds for those ca,. and that say great short cut. sometimes i do a lot of journaling and spend a lot of time trying to carve it out and sometimes they merge fully formed so it's different from play to play. >> rose: what i love about great plays is as you watch them, you can look at one of the characters and you feel like theynow me as much as i know myself because they're going through things, you say how do they know that because those are the same feelings i feel that is what great literature does as well i assume. >> yeah. >> rose: charles said of the fear in belleville comes from this fear-- a feeling that most of us have felt with a loved one. the sense that the person on the bed or the couch beside us has suddenly become a stranger whose motives and needs and deepest desires are as unreadable as the map of the city we have never visited. >> it's certainly part of what i am aiming for that there is something relatable in this play. you don't have to have been in an extreme situation to
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know that feeling of being in a relationship and suddenly finding something about your partner totally unrecognizable and frightening. i think that is a universal experience even for those of us who don't live in relationships. >> rose: so at some point you say i don't really know you. >> that's right, that's right. if-- there is a strange delay-- detail i got wrong and it seems there is a threat it all might unravel. >> rose: you said the way people cling to belief systems is of enduring interest to me. >> that's right. i think all of my plays are not thrillers. but i think they do all have characters whose belief systems are really front and center. and you feel this threat. >> rose: why do they cling to them, because they have served them as well as something to measure everything against sm. >> well, i think that's part of it and i think it's scary to go through the world without a lot of scaffolding. so i think it's really about fear and about having the things that you are certain of. >> scaffolding is a nice word. will people always talk about architecture but scaffolding is a nice word. >> thank you. >> rose: so the couple here,
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what role do they play, not the principal characters but the other couple. >> the landlord. >> rose: yeah. >> well, you meet the landlord, the man in the couple in the first scene because he comes up and delivers the news that which zack already knows that they are four months behind on rent. so that is one of the first cues in the play for the audience that there is something really amiss here and allots of information that anee, the wife doesn't have. i think the other role, though, is in contrast to the americans who have a certain sense of entitlement and expectation of what their lives would be like, this coup rel very hardworking, very practical. they are fairly honestment and it's, i think, partly a study of contraction. >> rose: your family, you said, politics is the religion of my family. but i am a dreamer, introspecifickive person, not out on the front lines at all. so i feel uneasy about that. unbez what they do or uneasy about you. >> uneasy about my failure to live up to that legacy.
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>> rose: tell me about your parents and how are you not like them. >> well, and my parents are much less radical than my grandparents. my grandparents were communists, very proud to identify as communists. my grandfather was blacklisted and my grand mother who just died recently remains really identified as a communist throughout her life into her 90s. >> rose: what did she-- she died recently and she was the 6. >> that's right. >> rose: what did she think of america. >> she, well, she always had a very dim view of america. so that never changed. i think she felt very disappoint odd, i guess, about some things in particular. >> rose: about its country. >> about the country. about the way the sort of youth move suspect not nearly radic as in her day. >> rose: how much influence did she have on you. >> a huge amount of influence. she was also the one in the theatre, so there were two very different sides of her but we were close since i was very little. i lived with her for a little while after i graduated from college. >> rose: lived in on the
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village. >> west, since 1961 and i don't shi she painted since then so it is one of those classic village apartments. >> rose: she never painted it. >> it looks exactly-- . >> rose: she never took paint kbrurb to walls. >> it is preserved and rt of 196 village moment. >> rose: do you think she died with regrets? >> yeah, she actually wrote a letter accompanying her will expressing her regret that her family wasn't as radical as she was. in a very loving, and good humored letter, she expressed that. so she had regrets about that. >> rose: why do you think she was so radical? >> well, it was partly just the era, born in 1917, the year of the bolshevik revolution, her parents were commitsed marxist and she lived through its depression. all of that was extremely formative. >> rose: are you full of things you want to say, and it's just taking time and choice and getting to them one by one? in other words, are you one, a young person with
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thousands of questions that you want answered? people have said to me, you know, the great novels begin with a question. maybe you can say that about plays too am maybe that's-- if you ask about belleville tlses's a question there. maybe the question is can this marriage hold? >> yeah, i-- i do think a lot of these plays have begun with a question. i don't think that i have a backlog of them. i think that i'm slower than that and i follow nose more than that. so something will pique my interest and it may be years of sort of gathering more interest until i finally write the play. so i don't feel like i have 20 in people. i feel like i will be lucky to find my next one. >> rose: really? >> yeah. i think every time i find an idea for a play it's sort of a miracle because you have to care about it so much. you have to is something capture your imagination so much. it doesn't happen to me every day. i saw that documentary with woody allen where every day he is am qoing up with titlesnd plots for move yees and i am envious. my mind is much slower. >> ros how about this, richard wring in time. she writes about the unknow ability of people.
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and how lives are torn a sunder when those unknowns start to surface. >> yeah that was a really nice encapsulation of four really different plays am i had not put it in those terms myself but all of these plays do have some kind of secret that sort of sends shockwaves through. ourly through a family but through some group of people rses thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> rose: amy herzog, let me tell you f you want to see belleville closes on april 4th. at the ne york theatre workshop. then goes to chicago for the summer. thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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Charlie Rose
PBS April 11, 2013 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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